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Us 50, San Bruno 41, San Francisco 26, New York 25, Florida 24, California 14, Dan Simon 11, Kiran 11, Terry Jones 10, Gainesville 9, Afghanistan 8, L.a. 7, Pacific 7, Volkswagen 6, Koran 6, Blair 5, John Zarrella 5, Dan 4, Muhammad Musri 4, Donald Trump 4,
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  CNN    American Morning    News/Business. New. (CC)  

    September 10, 2010
    6:00 - 9:00am EDT  

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they can concentrate on the flames. let me tell you where we are. we're here at the command center. this is where everything is being dictated and where resources are starting and then they wind up at the fire scene about a half mile from where i'm standing. earlier we were actually in the thick of it and i want to show you what it looked like. there were early reports that a plane may have crashed into the hillside. those reports were not true but you can understand when you get here why some may have been under that impression. when fire crews got here, this neighborhood where we are was totally engulfed in flames. you can see right now firefighters, all they can really do is take a defensive stance, try to put out some of the flames and prevent some of the other homes from catching on fire. here's another vantage point of hopes that caught fire. you can see behind us just four or five homes totally leveled. fire crews not doing anything over there. a few minutes ago we heard a very loud explosion. we didn't know what it was. turned out to be this white
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station wagon, some kind of car explosion. that's another thing crews out here have to deal with. we are right next to what we think was ground zero. you can see everything is completely leveled. to give you an idea how hot this fire was, want to show you this. look at the back of this white volkswagen, the heat just melting this taillight. if you want to the front, you can see that the explosion caused the concrete to travel a great distance. just lying here on the windshield of this car, a big chunk of it. one of the big problems firefighters are dealing with is the wind. you can see it on this crime scene tape blowing around and see it with this smoke. that's helping to spread the flames. and the wind has died down. that is the good news. hopefully fire crews will soon be able to get an upper hand on this blaze. the latest figure we were told is 50% containment. some of the other numbers we've been told we know will likely go
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up. 53 homes destroyed, about 120 homes damaged, 38 people taken to the hospitals with various injuries and one confirmed fatality. spoke to one firefighter who said because this happened just after 6:00 local time as people were coming home from work, no doubt, in his mind, you're going to see that death toll rise. meanwhile, we want to let you hear from some of the evacuees as they were fleeing this inferno. it was really quite dramatic for a lot of them, some of them just leaving with the clothes on their backs not knowing if they would come back to homes that were still standing. let's listen to what some of them had to say. did you hear the explosion? >> oh, yes. yeah. it was huge. it felt like an earthquake, a big one. and i got scared. i mean, i've felt them before, but this one was -- the whole house shook. and i got up to go into a doorway and my living room filled with an orange glow. and when i went to my front
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door, glass front, i looked out and everything was just flames. >> reporter: another witness told me that he saw the flames coming towards his house. he got into his garage, drove off. and as he was looking through his rearview mirror, he could see that the flames had already reached his house. it was that close. in terms of how this all started, we know that there was a gas line rupture. we don't know how that occurred, but one interesting thing to note here is a neighbor is telling a local television station that he actually detected the smell of gas for three weeks, said pg&e, the utility company, actually came out and investigated but he could still smell that gas odor. we reached out to a pg&e spokesperson. he said it was too early for him to comment about that but one thing he did say is if it's determined the utility is responsible, they will take full accountability for what happened. >> dan, looking at some aerial
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pictures from our affiliate ktvu of the pipeline rupture, the proximity to houses, looking at satellite photos of the area, there's nothing that would obviously seem like a pipeline right-of-way. this thing looks like it was threaded right through the neighborhood. very large gas main right through the neighborhood very close to these homes. >> reporter: certainly appears that way. just when you consider how many homes immediately were engulfed by those flames, it appeared, as you were saying, that that gas line was just right behind some of those houses. and the real question is what happened. was there some kind of construction going on in that area? was the gas line unstable? those are the questions that hopefully will get some answers as soon as we get some daylight. >> dan, also, the san bruno fire chief when he was speaking a little earlier said it may be
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tomorrow afternoon before they're able to actually get in there, do a full search. but as we heard from bryan carmody, the free lance photographer who shot this video, there are rumblers within the rescue workers and firefighters that they may see the number of dead climb higher once they get a full assessment. >> and we're hearing the same thing, that they're not going to be able to get into these homes until they feel comfortable that the area is safe. one thing they're asking neighbors to do is to go to the area shelters and give their address, explain that they got out. tell them that their family members got out and try to get some sort of head count that way just by matching the addresses with the homes that went down. so, again, that's something that they're urging neighbors to do. >> dan simon for us this morning in san bruno. we'll get back to you throughout the morning. dan, thank you so much. working all night on this story.
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no cause of the initial explosion has yet to be determined, it would seem pretty obvious a gas line rupture is to blame for the ensuing fire. >> there are a lot of questions as to whether or not there were complaints about a gas smell and whether or not those complaints were properly addressed. there are team who live in that neighborhood who say they had reported the smell of gas three weeks ago. >> it started around three weeks ago in my neighborhood. pg&e had came out. i was working in my garage. they told me to shut the garage, shut the door that was there heavy strong smell of gases. but the real heavy smell was right down the street at the next stop sign. every day after work i would smell it coming from the gutter and sue esewer. >> from what you know what did pg&e do? how long was the smell going on? what did they tell you to do? >> they told us nothing. i don't know how anybody cannot repair a smell like that and not find that smell especially going
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into neighborhoods. there are other neighborhoods that have smelled the same smell really strong. >> reporter: how long have you smelled this? >> a good three weeks. >> reporter: what did they tell you to do? >> when they had come out they said shut the door and go inside the house. that was it. you can see as what had happened. this is ridiculous. >> pacific gas and electric released a statementover night. this is all we've heard so far. part of that statement says though a cause has yet to be determined we know that a pg&e gas transmission line was ruptured. if it is ultimately determined that we were responsible for the cause of the incident, we will take accountability. joining us now for more on this is the mayor of san bruno, california. jim, i know it's been a long night for you. give us the lay of the land close to where the area where the pipeline ruptured. we know that a number of homes have been destroyed, one fatality at this point. what does it look like on the ground? how are you expecting this to unfold in the hours to come?
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>> well, unfortunately, if it's a sunny day tomorrow it's still going to be very cloudy in san bruno. we experienced a massive tragedy and probably won't know the full extent probably tomorrow and a couple of days after. the fire crews and first responders have not had a chance to get into the area because of residual fires and some of the gas still in the residential lines. they're going to have to wait until daylight to make it safe to go down and see the full extent of this tragedy. >> have you been able to get any handle on the situation for the people there who had to be evacuated? as dan simon said there was an attempt to match addresses to figure out who made it out okay and who may have not. >> yes. i was involved in interviews down at the bay hill shopping center where a lot of people were taken preliminarily to make sure that they weren't missing family members. we wanted contact information and reassure them by tomorrow morning we'd have a hot line up
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to give them information, any information they needed. the biggest thing is -- in my mind was the look on their faces. they were still in shock. they were walking around but almost in a daze. it must have been horrific when it happened. >> what is the status of the actual gas fire at this point? dan simon was telling us that pg&e was taking steps to get the gas turned off. the flow of gas may indeed be turned off. do you know what the status of the actual gas fire is at this point? >> i believe the major part of the gas fire has subsided, has been turned off. but as i said they're still very cautious because there's residual gas in individual lines. they're doing it piece by piece. they're being very cautious especially when it's dark up here. we'll know more by tomorrow morning. >> mostly they're dealing with obstructions that are on fire? >> yeah. most of the fires, i believe, are contained. 50%, according to the chief. but we did have some fires in the crest mar canyon just east
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of the site and cal fire helped put it out earlier with borate and water drops so it wouldn't get out of hand. i couldn't tell you exactly right now the status of the fire. your reporter said 50%. i believe 50% or better. >> i know you're not a structural engineer but can you give us sort of an explainer of how it works where the gas lines are located underground, how they're set up to ensure that of course the energy is provided but that the neighborhoods are safe? >> well, i think i would be overstepping my -- the knowledge of my boundaries if i tried to explain that to you. a lot of these are easements. you're better off talking to pg&e about howe it was set up. this apparently was a very high pressure 24-inch line so it wasn't a simple residential line into somebody's house. pg&e is much better equipped to answer that question. >> we do know there are some injured taken to area hospitals. do you have any, i guess, more
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information of where they were? were these people who evacuated the scene and injured while getting out or do you know if there were any rescues in the homes in the area? >> no. to the best of my knowledge, no rescues. people just heard this tremendous explosion and fireball. and i think they tried to run. probably a lot of it i would speculate would be flying glass. there were some burns i saw coming up out of a neighborhood. i think the report is 30 to 38 people taken to area hospitals. some have been released -- i haven't heard of any major, major injuries. but like i said, i've been back and forth to different locations since this started and i'm not right on top of every specific item. >> just a few minutes ago we heard from a local resident who said he had smelled gas in the area for about three weeks and actually reported it to pg&e. as the mayor, did you ever hear any reports of the smell of gas in the area? >> haven't heard a word about it? we had a press conference earlier with the fire chief.
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a resident brought that up and the fire chief said he didn't know anything about it. we would be one of the first to hear if in fact it was the occurrence but they probably just called pg&e because that's the gas and electric supplier. so i'm not aware of any gas odor that's been occurring up here. i don't know if it occurred or not. >> pg&e did release a brief statement saying if they are indeed responsible for this after an investigation, they'll take full accountability is how they put it. have there been any conversations between the city leaders like yourself and pg&e? >> yes, i have talked to the ceo of pg&e earlier this evening and his main concern was that he could supply any assistance necessary to help our residents through the red cross perhaps, any type of assistance that we needed to help us through this tragedy. we really didn't get into the specifics of responsibility. that's a discussion for a later date. my main concern is my citizens right now and make sure that they're safe and taken care of
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properly. and like i said, we're going to really address that in a very, very hard way tomorrow morning. >> jim ruane, the mayor of san bruno. thanks so much for joining us this morning. >> appreciate it very much. >> as he was saying confirmation that this is a very large gas line. 24-inch feeder line running right through that residential neighborhood. when you look at a satellite photo of the area, you can see typically on a satellite photo if there's a gas pipeline running through an area, it's quite well discernible from the surrounding territory. but this just seemed to thread right through a residential area. >> it looked like a subdivision. a big tract. they said there was damage to 120 homes. looked like every home in that tract. there were a couple of main roads leading around this. we're trying to build this as well with our graphics so we can show it to you. you're right. it looks like where they say it happened at vermont and clairmont it's literally in the
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middle of this neighborhood. >> you can see the density of the housing in that area as well. bryan carmody arrived on the scene of the tragedy about 15 minutes after the gas line ruptured. he's a free lance photographer that's been working the streets san francisco for 16 years. he was a still photographer when the oakland hills fires erupted in the early 1990s and join us live from the same location the mayor was at in san bruno. describe for us what the scene was like when you came upon it, what you saw, what you felt, tremendous amount of heat obviously. >> the sound was absolutely amazing. the sound was a really, really roaring, deep, deep, continuous roaring sound. when we pulled up and jumped out of the car, it was really hot. the radiant heat from the actual gas burning itself -- not the homes burning. the actual gas burning. was incredible.
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we couldn't really get that close. i actually have some very basic firefighting protection gear that i carry with me. i put on my helmet and my goggles just to be able to do what i needed to do. not to keep myself safe but just to keep the heat out of my eyes. we basically arrived, got about a block away from where this thing was burning and started to take video. >> and there you see this is video that you shot as well of the firefighters being able to get a dog out of one of the homes in the area. you also talked about the sheer frustration of those firefighters because the ones nearest to the actual explosion had no water because of the explosion. >> yeah. the firefighters did rescue that dog. that was kind of the best thing i saw all day in the midst of just a horrible day for these people in san bruno. the firefighters, i did have several of them come by to me and kind of make a spontaneous statement about how frustrated they were. they were frustrated because
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there was nothing they could do to fight the fire. for several reasons. number one, because it was just too big and too hot for them to get anywhere near it. but the other thing was the water. apparently, the explosion knocked out a water main at the location and there was no water in the closest hydrants to the incident. they had to bring water in by laying lines from several blocks away to get to -- just to get water to do some defensive operations. >> give us a sense of the size of the inferno that we saw here. we've seen these incredible aerial shots of a crater where the gas pipeline was centered. the explosion blue out the surrounding ground. and i think there might have been a road running on top of it as well because our dan simon showed chunks of concrete as much as three blocks away. the aerial photos tell the story but tell us from the ground, bryan, how widespread was this
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fire? how quickly did it spread out from the epicenter? >> the actual gas fire was very contained into one small, close area. but what happened is, the houses just started catching fire and moving. the fire would move from one house to the next because the fire was burning so fast and so big and so intensely. one fire would catch on fire, totally go up. and then the fire would move to the next house. the gas itself was just kind of a continuous fireball that was just going and going and going. when we were there, the flames were, i would say, at the most 100 feet tall. but it was definitely a sight to see. >> all right. we did get a little bit more information from san bruno's mayor about the extent of the injuries. as we said, it's going to take until tomorrow afternoon or perhaps this afternoon before they can get in there. he did say he thinks the last number was 30 to 38 people taken to local hospitals, some released, and no major injuries.
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right now all we know is one person confirmed killed. bryan, you said there were rumblings among the firefighters if you weren't able to get out when this started and were trapped there, does not look good. >> definitely does not look good for people that were close when it exploded but there's no way to know who was home, where they were or anything. what i saw was one person being carried out of the area. that's when the fire department actually took my car. they actually asked if they could use my car to evacuate this person out. i gave the keys over immediately obviously to them. but i only saw one person that was injured. local media reports reporting that there are several people in critical condition in different burn units throughout the bay area. >> bryan carmody, free lance cameraman joining us. we saw one of his pictures shot on the corner of vermont and clairmont about a block and a half away from the fire itself. by the way, the red cross is
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helping, as it does so ably in incidents like this over so many years. is helping to coordinate shelter and assistance for people who are affected buy the fire. here's the number to call if you have need help from the red cross. 888 888-443-5782 and also 888-4-help-bay. >> they were literally at the bay hill shopping complex not far away. shell shocked in the aftermath of what happened. certainly they'll need long term help. >> red cross always done such a great job. >> they do. we'll check in with california's lieutenant governor. he is the state's acting governor because governor schwarzenegger is in china. thanks for your time today, too. i imagine you're very busy this morning. give us an update on what you're getting out of the latest with this situation. >> kiran, i just came up from the bottom of the hill.
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i went down and had a close-up view of what looks like, in essence, like a bomb went off. asphalt all over the road, cars burned on both sides, structures standing up with no structures next to them. i'm shocked to know that this is a horrible tragedy that has hit the people of san bruno, california. >> governor, we're used to seeing scenes like this in the hills of oakland or outside sacramento or even in malibu. but in a densely populated suburban area like this, this is highly unusual. >> i think that's what got me the most. as i walked down the street, i looked and there's these neighborhoods -- houses everywhere and you get to the corn every of the street and all of a sudden no houses there. burnt everything and big old huge pipe in the middle of the road. you can see where the planes unloaded retar dantd, those houses are still there. quick action from cal fire and everybody here came together immediately. but i've never seen anything like this. i would expect something like
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this where there's big treece and so forth. but it's just a horrible tragedy and i hope we can just come together and move this forward and get to the end and see what happened here. >> i'm sure that you as well as all other state leaders want to know how it happened. have you gotten any answers from pg&e, even a preliminary assessment how this happened, if for no other reason to ensure it doesn't happen somewhere else? >> one of the first calls obviously from the guys that work on the fire on the front line who said we have a fire, we need to react. the second call from pg&e. they said we believe it's one of our pipelines. we believe it's a big pipe. and if we're responsible we're going to make everything good. so they were immediately on the forefront. give them credit for that. but we don't know what happened. i don't know what happened. tomorrow morning we will find out. we'll see more devastations. and i'm sure we'll find people that have not made it and it's really sad. >> when you say we're sure we
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will finds people that didn't make it, we know one person is reported dead at this point. is there a sense because of the enormity of this explosion, the fact it occurred just after 6:00 when a lot of people -- i know schedules have changed and many don't get home until after 7:00. is there concern the death toll might go higher? >> i hope not but i believe the death toll might increase. we don't know at this time. what i do know is when i was down there, i saw a lot of cars in the driveway. obviously, that tells me that people didn't leave. so that is a great concern. but we have a lot of fire folks down there right now cleaning up, going after, waiting for the sun to come up and see what happened. >> and speaking of that, you are saying tomorrow because it's 3:00 a.m. your time there. it's 6:00 in the morning here on the east coast. do you think by this afternoon, meaning today, friday, you will be able to have a better assessment of any loss of life,
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any other people who didn't make it and also programs a cause? >> i think so. our departments are all working hard. they know that as soon as the sun comes up, we're going to be out there. we're going to bring some dogs. we're going to go through the whole area, look at what happened and try to find out folks -- if there are folks in their homes and so forth. so it's going to be a morning where numbers are going to change all morning. it's going to be sad. it's a horrible tragedy for the people of san bruno. we just got to thank the firefighters who have been working so hard to clean this place up. >> governor, one more question about the potential for more fatalities in this case. when you got up close to the epicenter there where the pipeline was and the explosion and fire actually occurred, did you see explosive damage to nearby structures or did it appear to be all fire damage? >> oh, no, there was obviously fire damage, but a lot of explosive damage. i saw debris everywhere. there's pieces of concrete in the middle of the road, all over
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places, on top of the cars. the cars right next to the pipeline. there are two cars completely burned right next to the pipeline where they just exploded. i see windows broken everywhere. yes, there was a huge explosion and i'm sure this huge ball of fire that didn't allow firefighters to come in, it was so hot. >> just wondering if people might have died in the initial explosion as opposed to if a structure catches fire it's possible to get out. but if it was blown down it could increase the death toll. governor maldonado, thank you for being with us. >> it's going to be a long morning ahead for all of the leaders there and we're going to continual to check in on this. he just said he's shocked. it's a tragedy. and he never saw anything like it. that was the sentiment from a lot of people who have seen a lot of fires coming from northern california. strong winds are certainly not helping the situation as firefighters work to contain the flames. go to rob marciano in the extreme weather center. he'll give us a sense what that area is like today. >> as you mentioned, the winds
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are much more calm right now. typically the case. nothing over 10 miles an hour that we can find from san francisco to sacramento. of course san francisco and where san bruno is, which is pretty much right next to the san francisco airport, is on a -- it's one of the more narrow spots on the peninsula there that separates the bay from the ocean. with the coast range in there, you can get gusty winds especially in the afternoon. yesterday at 6:00, the winds were right at 21 miles an hour out of the west. so all day long -- it was really bad timing because we had winds out of the west at 20 to 21 miles an hour for about four hours between 5:00 and 9:00 at night. and once the fog burns off this time of year, you can get gusty winds. yesterday was a little worse than normal. we'll have some gusty winds later on this afternoon. shouldn't be as bad as everybody. and hopefully they'll have things under control more by then. but very bad timing for this thing to happen right at 6:00,
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pretty much at the peak of the afternoon winds. guys? >> all right, rob, thanks so much. we'll get the local forecast from you here for folks traveling across the country in a little while. we've gotten a lot of pictures from viewers like the one we're about to show you of the scene in san bruno after this happened. if you have photos or video from the scene and would like to share them with us, please go to cnn.com/i-report. terry jones, the pastor of that tiny chunge in gainsville, florida and his threats to have a koran-burning ceremony on 9/11. won't he, as he said late last night, or will he as he's suggesting he still might? the latest coming up. 26 minutes after the hour. tdd# 1-800-345-2550 what if every atm was free?
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welcome back. you're looking at pictures of just a devastating scene in san bruno, california, a couple miles from san francisco international airport. a neighbor heard that literally now looks like a war zone, like a bomb went off is how it is described by the acting governor of the state. we'll follow this and bring you more information as soon as we get it. new developments this morning out of florida where a
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pastor of a church with a few hundred congregants is holding hostage the discussion about muslim-american relations. >> reverberations felt throughout the world. terry jones initially backed off his planned burning of the islamic holy book tomorrow to commemorate september 11th. now he's saying he's not so sure, he may have been misled. everybody from the pope to sarah palin to the prime minister of israel is saying that this is a huge mistake if he goes through with it. john zarrella has the latest from gainesville, florida. this is a story that's taken a lot of unusual twists and turns. what is the latest in terms of whether this small congregation is going to go through with this? >> reporter: kiran, you're right. it was a bizarre series of news conferences and contradictions yesterday. and at the end of it all, all we really know is that plans to burn korans are at least for the moment on hold.
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suddenly and without warning two men worlds apart in their beliefs walked side by side to the microphones. pastor terry jones and imam muhammad musri from here in florida had a major announcement. an islamic center would be moved to a different location. jones for his part would not burn korans. >> the american people do not want the mosque there and of course muslims do not want us to burn the koran. e imam has agreed to move the mosque. we have agreed to cancel our event on saturday. and on saturday i will be flying up there to meet with him. >> reporter: pastor jones insisted he had a deal with imam rauf n. new york brokered by the man at his side imam muhammad musri but wait a minute. musri said he never made a deal. he never even talked directly with imam feisal rauf.
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he only talked to his wife who agreed to set up a meeting on saturday. >> the imam is correct in his statement there is no deal and we are not bartering. but we are trying -- i'm trying to resolve two delicate situations that have ramifications around the world. >> reporter: but by the time you left there and walked out here with pastor jones, it went from you saying that we can meet with the imam in new york and then pastor jones comes out and says, we have a deal and insists there's a deal. he stretched if, changed it? >> stretched it probably. >> reporter: for imam rauf in new york all that was transpiring in gainesville, florida, seeped to come out of left field. he issued a expressing gratitude jones backed off of koran burns but added, quote, i have not spoken to pastor jones or imam musri.
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i am surprised by their announcement. so where does this leave jones? he says he's surprised too and he's changed his tune a bit going from saying no koran burning to it's now on hold. >> we assumed that what the imam told us was of course true. now -- now we're in somewhat of a state of limbo and we have to re think of course our position. >> reporter: jones says he wants to talk with imam rauf sometime today before he dee sides what to do. at this point it's fair to say no one knows where, when or if a new york meeting will take place. and plans for this new york meeting are so uncertain, perhaps unlikely, that when i talked to imam musri late yesterday, he told me that he hadn't even yet bought his plane ticket. kiran. >> all right, john zarrella for us with the back story what took place. seems like this changes by the minute. by the way, we're scheduled
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to be speaking with imam muhammad musri. we're supposed to be talking to him right about now. we're trying to locate him, the director of the islamic society of south florida. the man you saw standing next to john in his piece. he attempted to change his minds about the koran burning. there is some confusion as to what was said. we'll try to get it straightened out when imam musri appears at our live location which we hope in the next couple of minutes. >> now donald trump is throwing himself into the fray about the islamic controversy of the cultural center being built in lower manhattan. the majority landowner said thanks, but no thanks to an offer trump had set out. he said he would offer to one of the aid investors in the site he would buy the site for the price paid plus 25% above that, all cash. the investors' lawyer says it was not even considered calling it a pathetic attempt to get
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publicity. it worked. donald trump will be on larry king tonight. is it a stunt or a serious offer? >> what would a week ever "larry king live" be without an appearance by the donald? our continuing live coverage, by the way, of this devastating gas explosion and fire in san bruno, california, will continue. the lieutenant governor of california declaring a state of emergency in the san francisco suburb. what we know at this point one person dead, dozens are hurt, some critically burned. there are fears that the death toll could go much higher. >> we did get an update from the mayor of san bruno about 20 minutes ago. he said at his last check, 30 to 38 people were injured. flying glass injuries as well as burns. an update on that as well. meantime they do know that 170 homes have either been destroyed or badly damaged. emergency officials tell us they expect the numbers will climb higher this morning. the gas line exploded just after 6:00 p.m. local time, so it was
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9:15 in the evening here on the east coast. sent a fireball hundreds of feet into the air. as we said, hot enough to literally blow chunks of asphalt several yards away and melt cars. dan simon is sont ground. he's been at the scene throughout the night and now into the morning. give us an update from what you're hearing from emergency officials right now. >> reporter: well, we're just hearing some surreal things out in the field. we got a report from a firefighter. there's a fire station a couple blocks away from the blast site. and he says that his feet literally lifted off the ground when that explosion happened. they raced to the scene. obviously, they were dealing with a major inferno. we're actually at the command center, but we had an opportunity to see things with our own eyes and get very close to what firefighters were dealing with. let's take a look. there were early reports that a plane may have crashed into the hillside. those reports were not true. but you can understand when you
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get here why some may have been under that impression. when fire crews got here, this neighborhood where we are was totally engulfed in flames. you can see right now firefighters, all they can really do is take a defensive stance, try to putt out flames and try to prevent some of the other homes from catching on fire. here's another vantage point of homes that caught fire. you can see behind us just four or five homes totally leveled. fire crews not doing anything over there. a few minutes ago we heard a very loud explosion. we didn't know what it was. turned out to be this white station wagon. some kind of car explosion. that's another thing that crews have to deal with. we are right next to what we think was ground zero. you can see behind me everything is completely leveled. to give you an idea how hot this fire was, i want to show you this. look at the back of this white volkswagen. the heat just melting this taillight. and if you walk to the front, you can see that the explosion called the concrete to travel a
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great distance. it's just lying here on the windshield of this car, a little chunk of it. one the big problems firefighters are dealing with right now is the wind. you can see it on this crime scene tape just kind of blowing around and you can see it with this smoke. that's helping to spread the flames. well, no wind here at the moment, but we're told the fire is still out of control. right now they're saying about 50% containment but are still deeming r. dealing with some heavy flames. in terms of what happened, what caused this, we know there was a natural gas line rupture. what happened is the real mystery. was there some construction work going on? was there just a lot of pressure and that's what caused this explosion in hopefully we'll get answers as soon as we get daylight. that's what the lieutenant governor was saying as well. as soon as we get some daylight and crews at least have a better handle on things, they can go in and try to investigate what called the explosion. >> the fires that are continuing
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this morning, dan, do they have anything to do with the gas line? or is the gas all shut off and these are structures that are on fire? >> reporter: we are told that the gas line has been shut off. and i actually saw a photograph a short time ago someone showed me. there's a piece -- this is a 24-inch gas line. and just a piece of it just sitting there in the street. unbelievable thing to see. in any event, we're told that the gas line is now shut off. for that matter, they've turned off all the power in the neighborhood. so what we're dealing with are just house fires, residual fires. as we said wind was a factor. doesn't appear to be much of a factor at least where i'm standing right now. really, that's what they're trying to do, get out all the residual fires and prevent the fire from spreading further. >> dan simon in san bruno. back to dan throughout the morning. of course first light expected there in a couple of hours or
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so. >> when they say 24 inches they're talking diameter of the pipe. >> that is a main line running right through the heart of that residential neighborhood. because of the fact that there is concrete that's been blown blocks away as dan simon has shown us, it appears that would be running beneath some sort of roadway as opposed to buffered right-of-way. we've got actually a google earth image of that area. take a look here as we put that up on the screen. it will show you this is all tract housing here and shows you just how dense that area is with structures. >> when they talk about 120 homes either damaged or destroyed, it looks literally like that tract of subdivision where you see the arrow vermont and clairmont streets, the cross-section there. as you were saying, if you're talking about a 24-inch diameter pipeline just under the surface, you can imagine the destruction. and we're seeing it. if it were to explode. >> red cross is helping to coordinate shelter and
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assistance. their number for folks who need help is 888-443-5722 or 888-4-help-bay. if you have pictures or video from the scene and would like to share them with us, go to cnn.com/i-report. we'll be back in just a minute. it's 41 minutes after the hour. you're watching continuing coverage of the san francisco explosion here on cnn. ♪
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we could've gone a more traditional route... ... but it wouldn't have been nearly as memorable. ♪
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♪ welcome back to the most news in the morning. we're going to give you a quick update on the situation in san bruno, if we could show some pictures. explosion of a gas line that took place there. we know one person was killed in this. an entire neighborhood virtually burned to the ground this morning. 30 to 38 people or perhaps more injured in this. this is before they were able to get in there and do an assessment today. so many people simply fleeing the area so really not an accurate count yet on who made it out. >> it will be some time yet before we know if the death toll
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goes higher because firefighters have not been able to get close to the area. as well it's very dark because it's the middle of the night. they're thinking at first light they may be able to get their way into the area, at least the outlying area where some of the fires are at to determine if anybody else was caught up in the initial explosion and fire. >> the only good news they did say through the course of the show -- we were on earlier -- that they did shut off the gas lines. one bit of good news and getting a handle on continuing fires. >> still plenty of structures on fire. lots of other news at 45 minutes after the hour. gay and lesbian advocates praising a federal judge's ruling that the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is unconstitutional. th the government will consider a temporary injunction to prevent the ruling from going into effect immediately. iranian officials say they could release american hiker sarah shourd as soon as
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saturday. shourd and two men have been held in iran more than an hour after they were accused of illegally crossing into iran. the hikers' mothers say they are innocent. they're asking they all be freed together at the same time. >> sarah has been sick for quite a while too. could be a reason they're letting her go. new video of the 33 trapped miners in chile san jose how they're communicating, writing letters and putting them into a plastic canister snaked to the service. trapped underground more than a month. it looks like the earliest they'll get out is christmastime. some of the bore holes they've drilled down may be 300 feet but they're 2300 feet down. they got to watch a soccer match. they lowered a cable and had a projector on the end. >> anything to keep their spirits up. their mental health obviously just as important as physical health as they try to get them out of there. meantime new information. president obama is set to name austin goolsbee as the new
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chairman of his council of economic advisers. expected to make the announcement later today. goolsbee is a long-time adviser and ark tech of the president's economic message. he'll replace christina romer who left earlier. need a vacation? who doesn't? a new study suggests a majority of americans aren't taking all the vacation days they've earned. kiran. 64% of the workers surveyed had to cancel or postpone a vacation this year. many cited too much responsibility oar stress on the job. research says americans are workaholics. and with so many people still out of work, those who have jobs seem reluctant to take off. you have how many vacation days you haven't used? >> lots and lots but i'll do it. next week, in fact. still to come, we're monitoring the latest developments out of san bruno, california. this morning we're getting new information.
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we're going to also check in with pg&e. this is the company who owns this gas line. and we're going to find out more about what may have gone wrong. 4 minutes past the hour.
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bruno, california. now, to give you an idea where this is, the san francisco airport is about 11 miles south of the city of san francisco. this is about two miles to the west of the airport, along that long peninsula that leads up into san francisco. we're continuing to monitor developments this morning. so far we know that one person has died. there are tens of more that have been injured but it's going to take some time before they figure out if the death toll can go higher because darkness in the area. still a lot of fires burning. fire and rescue officials can't get in there just yet. >> a little before 4:00 a.m. where they are. right now we're going to check in with rob marciano for the weather headlines. we saw some of the planes out there trying to drop retardant in the area. they also said yesterday they were frustrated by some of the winds. what's it going to be like today? >> right now calm. they've had that to deal with, two, three, four-mile-an-hour winds, that's about it. yesterday at the time of the
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fire about 6:00, winds were blowing 21 miles an hour. it started about 4:00 or 5:00, increasing throughout the evening. so the timing really couldn't have been worse. this time of year when the fog burns off in the afternoon, you will get gusty winds especially through the canyons in the coast range. there are mountains to the west and south of san bruno that will accent weight so-- the fires burning to the north and west of boulder. we expect to see less windy conditions tomorrow. heavy rain in association with what's left over with hermine. talk briefly about igor. this is the satellite picture. still well out in the atlantic. it actually has been downgraded to a tropical depression at least for now. we do expect it to restrengthen. that's the official forecast from the national hurricane center. keeps it farther down to the south. hurricane status over the next few days and brings it a little closer to the caribbean as we get closer towards -- beginning to middle part of next week.
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of course we'll be watching these winds carefully throughout the day today. we don't expect them to be as strong as yesterday afternoon but they will get a little gusty as the late day hours roll around. hopefully by them they'll have most of those fires under control. john and kiran. >> rob, thanks so much. the on again/off again potentially on again koran burning which is sort of maybe kind of sort of -- who knows -- take place in gainesville, florida. already prompting reaction around the globe. to afghanistan right after the break to tell you what's going on there.
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six minutes to the top of the hour. in afghanistan protests are under way over that florida church's plan to burn the koran tomorrow. >> yeah. the impli cases are already out there even though this has not happened yet. demonstrators across the capital and beyond. you can understand how incendiary just a rumor of the koran being burned is. what's going on there? >> reporter: right now, john and kiran, we're hearing that according to isaf 500 afghans were protesting outside a base but according to local afghan officials, they're saying over 10,000 afghans were protesting, at least one dead. we're also hearing sporadic protests fired up in various
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parts of the country. another one outside actually an american combat outpost in the eastern province. no reported injuries there. but as you mentioned, kiran, this is just a rumor right now that this koran burning might happen. when and if it actually does happen, once those pictures go out, the devastation that may occur in places like afghanistan and other muslim countries around the world is going to be great. when we saw such protests about cartoons about the prophet muhammad and now you're seeing the word of god in the eyes of of the muslim people being burned, it's going to cause massive damage. right now even general david petraeus, the top nato commander here, worried that it may even cause american deaths. >> we certainly hope that that's not the case. we also certainly hope that it's not too late, despite what this pastor decides what to do. in kablt. we'll check in with you throughout the show. as we said it was on and off
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as of last night but still a maybe in there. pastor jones saying he might do it. cnn producer chris philips gives us this. pastor jones saying as far as i understand we're flying out probably today from florida to meet with imam feisal in new york city tomorrow, which would be saturday. so if he's in new york, it would appear there's no koran burning taking place in gainesville, which a lot of people say would be a very good thing. top stories right after the break.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> it was like an earthquake. and a lot of rattling and the noise was phenomenal. it was so loud. and it just kept shaking probably a good ten minutes. >> that's a description this
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morning after this unbelievably devastating explosion just outside of san francisco. a state of emergency in san bruno this morning. a powerful gas line explosion triggering a deadly, destructive inferno. dozens of homes destroyed. the heat hot enough to crack car windshields from blocks away and to melt taillights as people were seen running for their lives out of the neighborhood. we're getting the latest information on it this morning friday, september 10th. glad you're with us. i'm kiran chetry. >> i'm john roberts. thanks for joining us. lots to tell you including a brand new twist overnight in the koran burning that was planned for tomorrow on 9/11 in gainesville, florida. will it happen? >> this morning we're hearing from the florida pastor who called it off yesterday and then seemed to indicate there was a possibility he'd go ahead with it. live report from john zarrella in gainesville in just a few minutes and we're going to be talking to the florida imam as well that may have helped broker this decision to not go ahead
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with the planned koran burning. we're going to interview him in about 20 minutes. first, though, more breaking news south of san francisco. >> as you saw by the pictures a couple of moments ago, the city of san brewo still on fire. a ruptured gas line, a big one, 24 inches triggering a powerful explosion and deadly fire last night at the height of the evening rush shower. one person dead dozens injured, some with critical burns. those numbers according to the mayor are expected -- and the acting governor expected to rise. >> we had a chance to speak with california's lieutenant governor a short time ago. he described it as lacking like a bomb went off. he described asphalt all over the road, cars burned on both sides and structures literally with nothing next to them but a chimney. more than 170 homes damaged or destroyed so far. >> the neighborhood sits about two miles west of san francisco's international airport, which is why when the explosion first occurred, a lot of people thought that a plane
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had crashed. dan simon is tracking the latest developments for us and is in san bruno live for us this morning. what's the latest from there on the ground? >> reporter: john and kiran, for a while this appeared to be just a losing battle for firefighters. when you consider the fact that you basically had an unlimited supply of natural gas. that is until it got shut off. in any event, we had a chance to see what things looked like up close. take a look. there were early reports that a plane may have crashed into the hillside. those reports were not true. but you can understand when you get here why some may have been under that impression. when fire crews got here, this neighborhood where we are was just totally engulfed in flames. you can see right now firefighters, all they can really do is take a defensive stance, try to put out some of the flames and prevent some of the other homes from catching on fire. another vantage point of homes that caught fire. you can see behind us just four
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or five homes totally leveled. fire crews not doing anything over there. a few minutes ago we heard a very loud explosion. we didn't know what it was. it turned out to be this white station wagon. some kind of car explosion. that's another things that crews out here have to deal with. rear right next to what we think was ground zero. you can see behind me everything is completely leveled. to give you an idea how hot this fire was, want to show you this. look at the back of this white volkswagen. the heat just melting this taillight. and if you walk to the front, you can see that the explosion caused the concrete to travel a great distance. it's just lying here on the windshield of this car, a little chunk of it. one the big problems firefighters are dealing with right now is the wind. you can see it on this crime scene tape just kind of blowing around and you can see it with this smoke. that's helping to spread the flames. you can only imagine what it was like for these neighbors when this happened, to hear that explosion.
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we were there as firefighters were putting it out. but you can just imagine what it was like right when it occurred, one neighbor telling us it sounded like an earthquake or felt like an earthquake. take a look. did you hear the explosion? >> oh, yes. yeah. it was huge. it felt like an earthquake, a big one. and i got scared. i mean, i felt them before but this one was -- the whole house shook. and i got up to go into a doorway and my living room filled with an orange glow. and when i went to my front door, glass front, i looked out and everything was just flames. >> reporter: so we know that this was a natural gas line that somehow ruptured. how it occurred we don't know. we don't know if there was some construction in the area or just so much pressure there. that's one of the things that we hope to get answers to as soon as we get some daylight here in san bruno. one interesting thing to note
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here is there's a neighbor who said he detected the odor of gas for a good three weeks and at one point pg&e, the utility, came out and investigated. actually told him to go inside his house, shut all of his doors. they were sort of canvassing the neighborhood, came across certain people and said, look, we understand that there's gas. you might want to go inside because it's a bit of a dangerous situation. so pg&e told us that it's too early for them to comment about that but they say that if they're indeed responsible, they'll take full accountability for it. >> and in fact, in about 30 seconds we're going to hear from pg&e spokesperson. so stand by for that. >> dan simon, thanks so much. we'll check in with you throughout the morning. we want to hear from that neighbor tim gutierrez. you can sense the frustration in his voice as he describes the calls that they made to the company. >> it started around three weeks ago in my neighborhood. pg&e had came out. i was working in my garage. they had told me to shut the door, go inside that there was
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heavy strong gases. after being in the neighborhood a little bit they packed up and left but the real heavy smell was down the street at the next stop sign. every day after work i would smell the heavy smell coming from the gutter and sewer right there. >> from what you know what did pg&e do about this? how long was the smell going on? what did they tell you to do? >> they told us nothing. i don't know how anybody cannot repair a smell like that and not find that smell especially go into neighborhoods and there's other neighbors that have smelled the same smell. really strong. >> reporter: for how long have you smelled this? >> for a good three weeks. >> reporter: what did they tell you to do? >> when they had came out they said shut the door and go inside the house. that was it. you can see as what had happened. this is ridiculous. >> tim gutierrez as kiran was saying expressing some frustration there. >> the people that lived there said they smelled this gas for week leading up to last night's tragedy. we're going to find out what can be done about it. blair jones the spokesman for
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pacific gas and lick trick and joins us this morning on the phone. blair, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. >> we want to talk about the idea of a gas leak, blair. but, first of all, what the heck happened last night? >> first, thank you for having us on this morning. our thoughts go out to everyone affected by this terrible situation. we have crews on the scene working with emergency officials. and right now our priority is working to help make sure the area is safe. to your question, john, a cause is yet to be determined. we do know that a pg&e gas transmission line was ruptured. but what led to that, that will be the source of an investigation. >> can you give us a sense of where the gas line was located within this neighborhood or just adjacent to it? >> well, i think the best way to say it -- it's obviously there in the vicinity of the neighborhood as part of a gas
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infrastructure that's serving or providing gas to residents in the region there. and, again, i just want to reiterate to our customers that are going through this situation that our thoughts to all of them that are affected by this terrible situation. >> sure, blair. we understand from talking to the mayor and the lieutenant governor who is the acting governor while governor schwarzenegger is out of the state, that this is a 24-inch gas pipeline. in terms of the infrastructure that you have there, is that a main pipeline? is it a feeder line? how would you describe it? >> well, i mean, a gas transmission line is a main line, if you will, for the delivery of gas service in the area. transmission lines would help feed -- actually distribution lines as well which would be connected in neighborhoods and helping heat people's homes. so we had the transmission lines and distribution lines in the
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area. we have shut down gas service in the immediate area where the incident occurred for safety. and, again, we are working with emergency officials out there on the scene to make sure the area is safe for them to access it and help them do their jobs. >> the reason we're asking about the vicinity, obviously, if the worst-case scenario happened, which as we see here it likely did, how can you ensure that this doesn't happen again? gas lines are underneath and near thousands of neighborhoods across the country. >> well, again, let me say our thoughts are with those affected by the situation. and we will be participating in a full investigation, looking into trying to determine what led to this incident. as i said, we do know that a gas transmission line ruptured. as to the cause, that's yet to be determined. but we'll be looking and participating in a full investigation trying to find out what happened. >> right.
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this particular transmission line, we have seen that it blue pieces of concrete several blocks away. was it actually crossing underneath or was it buried underneath a residential road at the point of explosion? >> john, i don't have the exact details exactly to lay out exactly where it was sitting. i can tell you that it was obviously located near this -- the area because, again, it's the way the infrastructure is set up, you had a transmission system and distribution system to deliver service to our customers. but, again, you know, as to the cause, as to what led to this, that's something we take very seriously and that will be part of a full investigation. >> no doubt you do. what about the complaints that there was a smell of gas in the area for some three weeks prior to this explosion? >> yeah, that's something as well. again, we are committed to a
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full investigation. that's something that we would look at during the course of that investigation. right now, our focus is on helping make sure that the area is safe, safe for emergency responders and crews and our customers and then going about restoring gas and electrical service as quickly and safely as possible. >> it would be seem, though, you would have a record of calls made from that area if people were calling pg&e to say, i smell gas. i need to know if that was taken care of. throughout the course of this today, has there been any investigation by your company as to whether or not these service calls were made in response to a smell of gas? >> well, again, we will be participating, conducting a full investigation. we'll look at things like that. right now our focus is on helping make sure the area is safe and that we're getting service back up of gas and electric quickly and safely as possible. >> one other just question about
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where these lines are. because there was some talk when we went out there. our reporter on the scene as well as others were talking about the possibility that perhaps construction, a backhoe or something may have ruptured the line accidentally. what safety measures are in place by your company to make sure that there is a buffer that even if there was an accidental digging or construction job, that something wouldn't hit a line? how do you prevent that? >> well, no. thank you for that. like i said, while the cause is yet to be determined here, i can tell you in general -- it's general practice that when anybody -- any time people do some type of work we have a system in place called call before you dig, 811 so we can come out and mark the line so if customers know they're doing some kind of work where the gas lines might be situated. that said, i'm not -- you know, it would be -- i can't speculate
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at this time of what led to this incident. that's yet to be determined. there will be a full investigation. but we always work with our customers and encourage them to call u.s. if they do any type of work so we can help them low kate where gas lines are in the vicinity to their homes or businesses. >> right. just before we let you go, do you know if anybody made a call before you dig notification in that particular area? >> again, that will be something part of our investigation. right now the focus is just working to make sure that area is safe and restoring service as quickly and safely as possible. >> blair jones from pg&e. let you get back to work with morning. sure you have a lot to do. hope to hear from you later what you're finding at least in terms of preliminary investigation. a student driving for class last night when he felt the dwrounld shake, heard a roar, thought a plane crashed nearby because of the proximity to san francisco international airport. he's on the telephone with us
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now. describe that scene as you were driving through the neighborhood. >> reporter: well, li >> like i said before, it was a very scary scene. i had never seen anything like it. at first when i saw the flames, i thought it was a small house burning or something. but as i walked down like literally three blocks away from the fire, like, i saw it was a huge, huge explosion. and just three blocks from the fire, i felt the fire or the heat on my face. >> yeah. we heard a lot of witnesses talk about feeling that radiant heat. in some cases it actually prevented firefighters from being able to even come close enough to even see if anyone was there. let's run your video because you did shoot video i believe with your phone when you were there at the location. some people also describe this roar, very loud roar coming from underground at the time.
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were you hearing that as well or had it stopped by the time you made it to the scene? >> yeah. you can actually hear it on the video too. it was an ongoing roar, which also made us think it was an airplane. we live down the street from the airport. and that's the very first thing we thought of when we saw this huge explosion. >> we have your video up here, sergio. let's pause for a second and listen to the sounds. you can clearly hear the roar of the gas there. your sister has a friend who lives in the neighborhood. do you know what happened to them? >> well, thankfully they got out okay. their house was burnt down. it was one of the affected houses. but thankfully they were able to get out. >> that's certainly good news that they were. it's very surreal to see this. you see cars racing away from the scene. obviously, if you're hearing that roar and don't live there and trying to get away.
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then to the left side we saw a woman running to the scene. obviously there were people concerned. at the time describe what the confusion and chaos was like as people were figuring out what the heck was going on. >> there was so much confusion. so many of us didn't know whether to run towards the fire and help people near the fire or run away from it and take cover from any more explosions. >> all right. search yoe csergio campos thank so much for that video. by the way, if you live in the area in san bruno or just passing through as sergio was, you happen to have your smartphone with you or whatever and have video, send it to us. upload at cnn.com. cnn.com/i-report. you can also get it on ireport.com. quick instructions very easy to upload video. we hope to find out more information. right now one person confirmed lost their life in that. there are fears among local
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leaders and also the fire and rescue that it could be higher just simply because of the nature of that violent explosion. they weren't able to even get near it at first. and the water lines were cut. so the firefighters had to actually truck in water. >> you can see from the aerial shots that massive crater. so not just the fire but explosive force of that coming up probably took out a lot of homes in the immediate vicinity. if people were home, they might not have had much chance to get out. that's why the lieutenant governor thinks at first light in san bruno they may find that the death toll actually does increase. we're continuing to follow the back and forth over this saga of the koran burning. it seems to get more bizarre by the moment. this florida pastor pretty much holding the world hostage when it comes to whether or not he's going to burn the koran on september 11th. looks like he says it's off and he's going to explain why coming up. meantime he's got the attention of the president, u.s. military and everyone there. we're going to be live in florida in a moment.
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20 minutes past the hour right now. welcome back to the most news in the morning. we have new developments out of
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florida today where one pastor of a church with just a few dozen congregants is virtually holding hostage the entire national discussion on muslim relations. reverend terry jones now backing off of his planned burning of the islamic holy book tomorrow, september 11th. but now he's saying he's not sure because jones is claiming he may have been lied to about the future of the planned islamic center in lower manhattan. john zarrella has the latest live from gainesville, florida, this morning. hi, john. >> reporter: in fact jones has been out here this morning making the rounds. he has in fact said he's hoping, planning on going to new york perhaps as early as today and he added if i go to new york, obviously there will not be any koran burning tomorrow. at this point, according to jones, there will not be a koran burning tomorrow, certainly not iffest in new york. but yesterday it was just a bizarre number of news conferences and contradictions.
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and all we ever really at the end of the deneuve was for the time being, the plans to burn korans were on hold. suddenly and without warning two men worlds apart in their beliefs walked side by side to the microphones. pastor terry jones and imam muy happened musri from here in florida had a major announcement. an islamic learning center to be built near ground zero would be moved to a different location. jones for his part would not burn korans. >> the american people do not want the mosque there. and of course muslims do not want us to burn the koran. the imam has agreed to move the mosque. we have agreed to cancel our event on saturday. and on saturday i will be flying up there to meet with him. >> reporter: pastor jones insisted he had a deal with imam feisal abdul rauf in new york brokered by the man at his side
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imam muy happened musri but wait a minute. musri said he never made a deal. he never even talked directly with imam feisal abdul rauf. he only talked to rauf's wife who agreed only to set up a meeting in new york on saturday. >> the imam is correct in his statement there is no deal and we're not bartering. but we are trying -- i'm trying to resolve two delicate situations that have security ramifications around the world. >> reporter: but by the time you left there and walked out here with pastor jones, it went from you saying that we can meet with the imam in new york and then pastor jones comes out and says we have a deal and insists there's a deal. he stretched it, changed it? >> stretched it possibly. >> reporter: for imam rauf in new york, all that was transpiring in gainesville, florida, seemed to come out of left field. he issued a statement expressing
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gratitude jones backed off of koran burns but added i have not spoken to pastor jones or imam musri. i am surprised by their announcement. so where does this leave jones? well, he says he's surprised too and changed his tune a bit going from saying no koran burning to it's now on hold. >> we assumed that what the imam told us was of course true. now -- now we're in somewhat of a state of limbo and we have to rethink of course our position. >> reporter: jones says he wants to talk with imam rauf sometime today before he decides what to do. at this point, it's fair to say no one knows where, when or if a new york meeting will take place. now, jones has insisted will were several witnesses during his meeting yesterday with imam musri and that what he heard was that there was a deal. of course the question now is will that meeting ever take
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place in new york. and it's, kiran, probably not only unlikely, but probably very uncertain as to whether that will ever happen. kiran. >> another big question is whether or not a lot of damage has already been done. we've been talking about those protests taking place a little -- divergence of opinion as to whether there are hundreds or thousands of people out but it's happening in afghanistan today. john zarrella, we'll check in throughout the morning. thanks. so let's try to get some clarity on this. 25 minutes after the hour. imam muhammad musri is the director of the islamic so sight of central florida and joins us live from florida. imam musri, thanks very much for being with us. we really appreciate it. so what is the state of things? what's happening? who are we to believe here? >> i believe that it was very clear. i gave interviews to the media prior to walking into mr. jones'
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office. he kept me waiting for an hour in the sun. and i stated exactly the message i'm bringing that i want him to understand that delaying the canceling of the burning until saturday is going to be too late. demonstrations and riots would take place on friday because hundreds of millions of people will be attending services. and that was the center of the message. and i also -- while meeting with him -- observed the call when he got it from secretary gates. that was what sold him on the canceling. and he was 90% ready to cancel. >> right. >> while i was closing my argument with him, he said, what would you do about the place in new york? >> the mosque. >> i said, i can set up a meeting. i'm an imam.
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i can talk to the imam abdul rauf in new york, set up a meeting and bring you along to discuss and to take, you know, a shot at moving the mosque. i do not control it. i was very clear to him i have no control over it. >> okay. jones insists, though, that there was some sort of a deal in order for him to give up this idea of burning the koran that the mosque would be moved. and here's what he said about what you said after that saying, no, no, no, no deal to move the mosque, only to have a meeting. >> i understand that he is now going around saying that he did not say that. that is absolutely not true. that is absolutely -- i have several witnesses that were there in the room. we made it very clear. he repeated it back that the imam there in new york said that they would move the mosque. >> so, imam musri, who's telling the truth here? >> of course i am.
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i have not made that promise. and i made it very clear to him i have no control over the project in new york. i'm just a made immediate eightor here. i promised to set up the meeting and take him along and pay fwor it but no guarantee i can move that mosque. he stretched it and exaggerated once he was in front of the cameras. that became to him the center -- the face-saving gesture that he wanted to connect the two together and barter. but i -- that's not what i offered him. >> yeah. i mean, it wouldn't be unusual for someone to come out of a meeting and stretch what they believe their perception of that was. but in the time that you spent with him, what was your sense of who this fellow terry jones is? >> i think he is a good person at heart and he is a man who got himself in a very difficult
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position and couldn't back down despite calls from christian leaders across the world and in his community as well as from the president, from general petraeus and others who stressed to him the gravity of what he's about to do. and he could not back down. and i felt that it's my responsibility as the muslim leader in central florida to go up to him and speak one-on-one with him and explain that he's putting american lives at danger and he should reconsider and twice -- >> imam musri, does a person who is of good heart threaten to burn the holy book of another religion and potentially put lives at risk because of that? >> i'm not god to know what's in his heart. i know that speaking to him, that he came across as a good
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person, a sincere person. but of course someone who has such feelings towards others is not a perfect man. but i was willing to take him as is and work with him, try to bring him out of the predicament he put himself in. >> so the question is, where are we today in terms of this koran burning because he said it's off and then he said maybe it's not off because i didn't get the promise of the mosque move. but now it appeared according to cnn producer rich phillips he's traveling to new york for ameeting. he said farce iunder stand we're flying out probably today to meet with the imam tomorrow. if he's in new york you could logically assume there won't be koran burning at least in gainesville tomorrow. what's your understanding of a state of play of a meeting between terry jones and imam feisal rauf? >> i believe that the understanding was the first step for him to cancel on thursday
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afternoon the planned burning and second step today we would contact the office of the imam, schedule it as soon as possible and fly up there together or separately and meet with the imam and propose to him that's -- >> but at this point, that meeting hasn't been set? >> hasn't been set. >> okay. all right. imam muhammad musri, thanks so much for being with us this morning. good to talk to you and we look forward to seeing how this whole thing turns out. >> thank you. >> it's just surprising. this puts the imam rauf in a tough situation too because if he appears to be in any way negotiating or seeming willing to concede to arguably an extremist on the other end, how is that going to work in terms of building a cultural center to bridge religious gaps? >> getting awfully messy. >> sure is. we're going to continue with
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this including follow-up from afghanistan, protests already taking place there. meanwhile back to california with breaking news coverage out of san bruno. still burning this explosion that took place because of a gas line rupture. happened in a suburb. dozens of homes wiped out by this powerful explosion that then triggered a deadly inferno. one person confirmed killed. dozens hurt. and those numbers could jump as they wait for light this morning to be able to get in there. more than 170 homes are either damaged or gone altogether. >> the death toll expected to rise because the force of that explosion was so big that there was not only fire damage but explosive damage to the homes around it. they're not going to be able to move in until light and get some of those fires tamped down. only then are we going to get a better handle on the scope of this tragedy. explosion last night just after 6:00 pacific time. fireball that went hundreds of feet into the air fueled by a very, very large, 24-inch pipeline setting home after home
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on fire, melting the taillights off of cars blocks away. it shows you the intensity of the heat that was coming from that fire. >> yeah. also, san bruno is just a couple of miles southwest of san francisco international airport. that is the reason why people at first thought perhaps this was a plane crash. that's the force in which they felt it. dan simon is on the phone right now at the airport. tell us what the latest is. >> reporter: it's a cliche to say but it looked like a movie set when you got there. we had a firsthand glimpse of it. tell you why i'm on the phone and not in front of the camera. the police department determined that they need the space where the media had assembled. so they are asking us to move our equipment and to move our satellite trucks. so we're in the process of doing that and hope to have our live shot up momentarily. but, again, just want to sort of show you what it looked like
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when we got to that scene just a little while after firefighters arrived. take a look. there were early reports that a plane may have crashed into the hillside. those reports were not true. but you can understand when you get here why some may have been under that impression. when fire crews got here, this neighborhood where we are was just totally engulfed in flames. you can see right now firefighters, all they can really do is take a defensive stance, try-to-put out some of the flames and prevent other homes from catching on fire. this is another vantage point of homes that caught fire. you can see behind us just four or five homes totally leveled. fire crews not doing anything over there. a few minutes ago, we heard a very loud explosion. we didn't know what it was. it turned out to be this white station wagon. some kind of car explosion. that's another thing that crews out here have to deal with. we are right next to what we think was ground zero. you can see behind me everything is completely level. to give you an idea just how hot
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this fire was, want to show you this. look at the back of this white volkswagen. the heat just melting this taillight. and if you walk to the front, you can see that the explosion caused the concrete to travel a great distance. it's just lying here on the windshield of car, a little chunk of it. one of the big problems firefighters are dealing with is the wind. you can see it on this crime scene tape just kind of blowing around and you can see it with this smoke. that's helping to spread the flames. and i guess the thing that impressed me the most or made the biggest impact was just seeing those chunks of concrete just blocks and blocks away from the main blast site. i mean, that just gives you some perspective on how powerful this explosion was. and right now, the latest in terms of homes destroyed, something like 53 homes, 120 others damaged.
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you mentioned that one fatality but no doubt, at least according to firefighters we've spoken to, they're expecting that number to rise pretty dramatically. we're expecting a press conference at 8:00 local time, about 3 1/2 hours from now. so probably no updates until then unfortunately. >> dan simon live in san bruno this morning on the telephone. appreciate it. president obama called it a recruitment bonanza for al qaeda. but a florida pastor may still go through with his threat to burn the islamic holy threat tomorrow on the anniversary of 9/11. what that could ignite overseas and here at home. 36 minutes after the hour. the most powerful half-ton crew in america has a powertrain backed for 100,000 miles. chevy silverado half-ton a consumers digest best buy and the most dependable, longest-lasting full-size pickups on the road. now get 0% apr for 72 months on 2010 silverado half-ton models
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welcome back to the most news in the morning. it's 39 minutes past the hour right now. we're getting word that thousands of people in afghanistan are already protesting simply because of word that this florida pastor reverend terry jones is planning to burn the islamic holy book on 9/11 tomorrow. as we just heard a few moments ago from the florida imam who is trying to stop him from doing that, for right now he is not going to do it. if he gets a meeting with the developers of the islamic center and mosque that's set to be
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built near ground zero. confused yet? a lot of us are but we're trying to wade through this as best we can. also, take a look at the larger implications for violence because of this very, very charged and upsetting debate that's going on right now. we learn that he did get a personal call from the defense secretary robert gates and we also heard from president obama asking him to call off the koran burning stunt saying that it would jeopardize u.s. troops abroad. joining us from london a terrorist analyst, and in d.c. cnn national security analyst peter bergen. thanks to both of you for being with us this morning. peter, it's just interesting how as we've described it you can really hijack a debate when thousands of people across the world are putting their lives at risk for one reason or another. but in the end to have peace between nations and peace between religions, how did it get to the point where this reverend of a small congregation in florida is able to
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potentially incite violence globally? >> unfortunately, we've seen this videotape several times before, kiran. in 2005 when "newsweek" published a story about a koran flushed down a toilet in prison, a story later retracted, there were riots across afghanistan killing dozens of people. the threat of violence, the fact that general petraeus, secretary gates saying it could cause violence is based on historical reality. in sweden offensive pictures. prophet muhammad the subject of threats. there's a long record of this kind of thing. >> paul, you say it's already happening. you actually got off the phone with a jihadi earlier this morning. what are they saying this morning about their response and reaction to even word of the potential burning? >> speaking to a former jihadi earlier and he said the reaction
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of violence in the muslim world could be greater than the cartoon controversy in 2005, that this is a gift to al qaeda. they've had a bad rap because they've been killing so many muslims but could allow them to recruit more people. also today here in the uk a radical british group has issued what is definitely a warning and many will see as a veiled death threat against this reverend in florida. they say his life is not his own, that he can't go anywhere without being killed and they basically call on muslims to assassinate this individual. this comes on the heels of an american iraqi cleric issuing a death threat against a seattle artist in july for a sort of similar controversy. >> peter, this is interesting because we have the images of this pastor jones walking to the microphone yesterday with an imam, the florida imam, who is then saying i will bring you on a plane, meaning jones, and take
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you to new york and you're going to potentially meet with the imam behind this construction of the moving and cultural center blocks from ground zero. what type of picture or image is that in the larger muslim world? >> i mean, that was a hopeful image but somebody seems to have reversed their position in the last several hours. i think what paul says is quite important. terry -- pastor jones, if he went through with this plan would essentially potentially be signing his own death warrant. we only have to think about the salmon rushdie incident, who wrote a book in which passage was deemed offensive about the prophet muhammad. and he was the subject of a fatwa from iranian clerics that haunted him for literally decades. he's still not completely out of the woods. he's had a very serious level of british police protection. so if pastor jones went through with this, he would be putting his own life in danger, which is
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something that is part of the calculation here surely. >> paul, though, when we talk to the imam who is trying to help tamp this down by getting pastor jones not to do this, he said he thinks he painted himself into a bad situation that he can't really get out of, that he potentially doesn't want to go through with this and very well might not. is there any nuance? or is it a done deal already in the eyes of extremists? >> in the eyes of extremist it's clear they see this very useful, that they can use it as a recruiting tool and caused a lot of damage already but nothing like the damage if there's videotape of all these korans being burned. there is also a danger not just to this pastor but to americans generally even in the united states. there's been more radicalism in recent years, more cases of americans becoming implicated in terrorism. and so there's a danger that this sort of action will create a risk even in the united states, kiran. >> and, peter, is there an understanding -- when we talk
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about the protests taking place in parts of afghanistan said to possibly be in the thousands already -- that by the very nature of the makeup of america, we can't stop this? it's not so simple even though the vast majority of americans and american leaders think this is completely utterly wrong? >> kiran, i think that's a really excellent point. the united states is the first amendment, the right to free speech. it's not the 25th amendment. so it's deeply embedded in our culture. in countries like britain incitement of racial hatred is a crime. none of these are crimes here. you can say whatever you want. you can do whatever you want. providing it's not actual violence. but because -- >> you can't yell fire in a crowded theater. that's the test case. isn't this the equivalent of that? >> yeah. the poichbt is because we're a country of immigrants we have these freedoms but we don't choose to exercise them all the
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time. i could get on this program and make inflammatory statements about all sorts of inflammatory people. it's my rights but we don't do that as a country. terry jones, pastor jones is really taking advantage of our rights. these rights also come with responsibilities andest being utterly, utterly irresponsible. >> this morning it looks like he's moving toward the not burning the koran, which would be a good thing for everyone. of course as we know we can't know for sure. peter cruickshank, and peter bergen. >> he makes an excellent point for pastor jones that it may be too late. that just the threat of burning the koran is enough to put him in serious hot water. boy, this thing is just -- it's taken all sorts of twists and turns. after years of political infighting, a 9/11 memorial at new york's ground zero is finally taking shape. deb feyerick takes us on a tour of the site just ahead.
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♪ [car horn honks] our outback always gets us there... ... sometimes it just takes us a little longer to get back. ♪
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welcome back to the most news in the morning. i'm rob marciano cnn's severe weather center. threat of flood midsection of the country trying to rain out what's left of tropical storm hermine. winnie conditions expected across parts of the northern tier. that's not the best news for the fires that are being fought in boulder, california. the fires in san francisco or just south of san francisco very
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close to the airport, just west of the airport. we do think there will be delays in san francisco because of that, because of the smoke at hoo least in the morning. windy conditions in new york. might see travel delays. midsection of the country paducah, kentucky, into bowling green left over from hermine as it makes its way through the ohio river valley. heavy rain at times although we don't expect to see the flooding and torrential rain across oklahoma and parts of texas the last couple of days. winds gusting to 30 miles per hour across parts of the front range. talk more about what's going on in the tropics throughout the program. continuing our breaking news this morning, here's the latest pictures from ktvu. we haven't had live pictures for a while this morning. it looks wholly different than it did just a little while ago. >> that san bruno neighborhood the site of a devastating gas pipeline explosion and rupture that took place about 6:15 p.m.
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last night. so 9:15 eastern time. it's almost -- let's see, it's five -- minus three hours here. it's 5:00 in the morning coming up 5:00 in the morning. this is just now that they are even able to get a handle on the situation. they have been fighting the fire throughout the night. only about a couple of hours ago that they got the gas stopped. >> it looks like the area where the main explosion had taken place to the upper right of the screen. you can see the homes that burned down and are still smoldering. the massive fire was being fuelled by this 24-inch gas main has gone out when they cutoff the flow of gas. it burned out what was left of the line and the gas going into the homes. now they are left to pick up the pieces of the other homes on fire. it looks like from this vantage point the majority of fires have actually gone out. that's a good thing.
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that will allow rescue crews or recovery crews to get into that area and see how many people might have perished in the fire. >> they may not make that determination until later. we will keep covering this for you. >> hang on for a second. the local fire chief according to the l.a. times saying six people dead in this fire. there was one up until moments ago and now six according to the local fire chief. >> sad news and unfortunately not unexpected if you saw what the flame looked like a few hours ago. we'll be right back.
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everyone knows a fee is a tax. you raised some taxes during that period, particularly the property tax as well as a lot of fee increases. as you know, there's a big difference between fees and taxes. but...they're the same. it's a tax. it's a tax. it's a tax. it's a tax. there's a big difference between fees and taxes. fees and taxes are one in the same. if it comes out of my pocket, it's a tax. now he says it isn't true. we didn't raise taxes. what? still doing the same thing, paying out more money. typical politician. definitely. >> we are back with the most
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news in the morning. tomorrow marks nine years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. >> each year there is a memorial, but it hit roadblocks when it comes to the construction of the finished construct. for the first time, there were signs of progress. we got a tour of the site and she is here with not so much the time it took building, but the time it took debating. >> they negotiated every detail down to the last nail almost. you really can't live in manhattan without passing it a few times a year. when you look at it, it seems it's finally coming together and the momentum is unstoppable. by this time next year, the museum should be completed and the worldville a chance to pay respects to all victim who is died that day and after. >> you can envision it by looking here. >> it's not enough to look at ground zero. you also need to listen.
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now every day, thousands of workers here rebuild. >> everything west of where we are standing is the memorial site. it's eight of the 16 acres so 50% is for the memorial and museum. >> joe daniels heads up the memorial and was here that day and will never forget what he witnessed. >> 1100 victims were never identified. the crushing force of collapse, those families never got remains back. this is a place where the entire world will come to pay respects. >> after years of very public battles and stalled negotiations, the memorial is built on the footprints of the two towers. two grannic reflecting pools with a man-made water fall flowing into a deeper pool. what the creator calls a bottomless abyss.
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>> we are thousands of gallons streaming in every minute. >> he was 32 and working for the city when the towers fell. the design beat out 5 thousand thousand others. >> it was a way of coming to terms with what i had seen that day. >> the victims's names will be etched at the top of the pool. shadowed by day and in the light at night. >> i wanted to create a stoic and quiet and defiant memorial that in the face of the tragedy, it sits quietly and silently and unyielding. >> beneath the pool -- >> it's seven stories below. >> it will be a museum. >> faces of everybody. >> right there. >> key 9/11 items preserved like this stair well used by hundreds of people as an escape route.
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>> that stair well that nobody thought was extraordinary was a bridge to safety for so many. >> it represents the story of survival. >> this wall holding back the hudson river, had it been breached, lower manhattan would have been under water. >> this wall is strong and symbolic. >> what is this? >> this is an individual steel column remnant. >> the stairs and other remnants would have been covered over or removed were it not for members like anthony gardener. >> how vital it was for you to preserve this? >> it was everything. it's a tangible connection to the event and the people who died. >> gardener is 34. a year younger than his brother harvey the day he died working on the 83rd floor of tower one. >> to me it's a place of power and a place of connection to history and my brother. >> 9/11, we saw the worst of humanity, but in the seconds
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after it happened, we saw the best of humanity. these artifacts speak to that side of the story. >> it's remarkable the number of people every day rebuilding it piece by piece. the architect who is now 41 said this building is supposed to be the building equivalent, the structural equivalent of a moment of silence. it will seem that way when the trees are up and you have this quiet area in the middle of all this noise and chaos. it's fascinating. >> i have goose bumps seeing it. >> i drove by yesterday and all you can see is the tower beginning to rise, but when you get that ariel view or the view from where you are and you see the footprints of the towers coming together, it's going to be powerful. >> it really, really is. especially with the water. again, it's quiet reflection to figure out what that day meant to you and people individually.
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>> in the midst of this debate over the building of this cultural center, i hope that's not lost in all of this this year. nine years ago, everybody came together in the wake of this tragedy. >> that's exactly right. that's the way it should be. >> great look at that. thanks so much. top stories in two minutes. stay with us.
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it was like an earthquake. a lot of rattling and the noise was phenomenal. it was so loud. it just kept shaking probably a good 10 minutes. >> that's an explosion, brilliant fireball rising 1,000 feet in the sky according to witness who is saw it. all of this a tragic situation in one san bruno neighborhood this morning. it's now 8:00. 5:00 in the morning pacific time. good morning to you. it's september 10th. >> i'm john roberts.
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good of you to be with us. we are following breaking news. the l.a. times reported six people have been killed in the massive gas explosion according to the san bruno fire chief. unfortunately they expect the death toll to rise as rescue and recovery crews get into more homes as the day progresses. >> more than 170 homes are damaged or destroyed and crews will be searching house to house, that process beginning any minute now. live on the home in san bruno, we had you live throughout the earlier part, but as the day moved on, they asked you guys to continue to move back more from the scene. what's the latest? >> the police department said they needed our space to make room for their vehicles going in and out of the command center. we will be up shortly with the camera, but what you are reporting are six confirmed according to the l.a. times. in speaking to firefighters who
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were there on the scene and we had a chance to look at the scene as well, they were telling us all along they anticipated the death toll to rise rapidly when they had an opportunity to go into these homes that they put out and really inspect closely. i think the best thing is to show you what it looked like when i arrived on the scene after firefighters got to that neighborhood. there were early report that is a plane may have crashed into the hillside. they were not true, but you can understand when you get here why some may have been under that impression. when crews got here, this neighborhood where we are was just engulfed in flame. you can see right now, firefighters, all they can do is take a defensive stance and try to put out the names and prevent the other homes from catching on fire. here's a vantage point. you can see behind us, four or
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five homes levelled and crews are doing anything over there. we heard a loud explosion and we didn't know what it was. it turned out to be a white station wagon. that's another thing crews have to deal with. we were next to ground zero. you can see everything is levelled. to give you an idea how hot this fire was, i want to show you the back of this white volkswagen, the heat melting this tail light. if you walk to the front, you can see the explosion caused the concrete to travel a great distance. it's lying here on the windshield of this car. one of the big problems firefighters are dealing with is the wind. you can see it on this crime scene tape. it's blowing around and with the smoke that is helping to spread the flame. it's clear that firefighters are making good progress as the night wears on here in san
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bruno, california. you can see the image on your screen. it appears they made good progress getting the flame out. the latest we heard however was 50% containment. when we get the next briefing, we are will assume that will rise, but that's the latest figure we have. we are told that there was a sort of natural gas line eruption that caused the fire to occur. this explosion. what happened and how that enormous gas main was compromised is really the question. was there a construction going on in the area and was there a build up of pressure? those are the questions that obviously we want to find out. none the less an incredible inferno we witnessed and one firefighter i spoke to said this was the biggest fire he has seen
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in his career. >> dan simon on the phone and no cause officially determined at this point. we spoke to pacific gas and electric and they confirmed it was a rupture and they are looking into it. some people who live in the neighborhood have said they have been complaining about the smell for about three weeks leading up to the explegz and don't think anything was done about it. let's listen. >> it started around three weeks ago. pg&e came out and they said shut the door and there was a strong gas. after being in the neighborhood, they packed up and left, but the heavy smell was right down the street at the next stop sign. every day after work, i smelled the heavy smell coming from the sewer right there. >> for what you know, what did pg&e do about it and what did they tell you to do? >> they told us nothing. i don't know how anybody can not repair a smell and not find that
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smell. you go into neighborhoods and others have smelled the same smell for so long. a good three weeks. >> what did they tell you to do? >> when they came out, they said shut the door and go inside the house. that was it. you can see what happened. this is ridiculous. >> you can hear the frustration in his voice. with so much damage done and so many homes and lives destroyed, there a lot of questions for officials at pg&e, the utility that owns the gas line. blair jones is say spokes person for pg&e. i assume you heard him say he and other people in the neighborhood had been smelling a strong smell of gas in the neighborhood for about three weeks coming from the intersection and the sewers. was there a gas leak that may have gone on for days? >> thank you for having us on this morning.
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i want to start by saying our thought guess out to everyone affected by this terrible situation and our priority right now is working to make sure the area is safe. we have crews on the scene working with emergency officials so it's for them it get into the area. >> i appreciate your concern about the residents in the neighborhood, but the question was, what can you say about the reports that gas was leaking in the area for a period of days if not weeks? >> and john we talked about this earlier in your segment. a cause yet to be determined, but we will be participating in a full investigation and to your question there, that would be something to look at during the investigation. right now the focus is again on helping to make sure the area is and restoring gas and electrical service as quickly and safely as possible. that would be looked at in the course of the investigation. >> have you gotten new
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information today? i'm sure that there many people wanting to know what's going on, especially whose homes are ablaze and people who know someone who may have lost their lives injured because of this. the emergency personnel, they want to make sure this can't happen again in another neighborhood. >> again, we are still in the early stages of this incident, but we are working hand in hand with emergency officials to make sure they can access the area. we will be continuing to work with emergency officials and investigators to try to find out the cause that led to that and we will continue to work to restore service as quickly andly as possible. customers have concerns and so do we and our thoughts are with everyone affected by the terrible situation. >> i want to press you on this
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point more time. the calls had been made and have you been able to in the hours following the explosion ascertain whether or not anybody made a call to your utility to report a smell of gas in the area. >> again as i said, we will be participating in the investigation and that would be something to look at in the course of the investigation. >> i understand, but have you been able to in the last few hours ascertain whether or not there were calls made to the utility? >> that's something we will be looking at in the course of the investigation. right now the focus is making sure the area is save and we can restore service safely. >> the red cross helping coordinate shelter and assistance for people affected by the fire. 888-443-5722. >> if you live in san bruno and you saw the explosion or are
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affected, you can send photos or videos at cnn.com/ireport. meantime, the california explosion and fire could mean travel delays for the area beyond san bruno. it's a couple of miles from san francisco international airport. rob is monitoring all of the conditions and will join us live next. >> another big story we have been following for days, the koran burning scheduled for tomorrow temporarily at least on hold. we will hear from the man who a parentally brokered the deal to stop the burning last night. terry jones who said he was going to burn 200 copies tomorrow said well, not so fast. the deal may not be in place and this thing may still be on. 10 minutes after the hour.
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a fairly decent group of doctors that have shown up, we have general surgeons and anesthesiologists and psychiatrists. we can handle everything. a lot of nurses have come in and ancillary help and respiratory therapy. we have the staff to man what seems to be coming in. >> we have been following the breaking news out of san bruno near the san francisco airport. the times reporting that six people were killed in the gas explosion and happening around 6:00 last night pacific time. 170 homes either damaged or
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totally gone. the fire chief saying the crews are just now coming this in to search for more victims. they were too big and too hot to get near it for most of the night. >> smoke is expected to cause airport delays at san francisco international airport about two miles away. rob is in the extreme weather center this morning. such a tragedy. the repercussions will be felt beyond this neighborhood as we find out whether or not the weather will be impacted because of the flame. >> the airport is close to there so they put out an advisory saying they think there will be delays because of the smoke. how long the delays are, we will have to wait and see. certainly in the morning it could be up to or over an hour until things get more back to normal. we have lighter wins this morning. we had light winds yesterday, but in the afternoon this time of year, you get the sea breeze and these can easily go from one
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to three miles an hour up to 21 miles per hour. 14 miles an hour yesterday at 6:00 in oakland. this was bad timing for the explosion to happen around 6:00. at 2:00 and 3:00, it rolled lighter. winds were sustained and gusting higher than that. similar conditions and not quite as severe as yesterday. wins very, very light and this is due to a larger weather system and the local microclimate. we get into october and things are more quiet with sustained sunshine. that's the deal with the weather. no system that rolled through and no rain helping. most of the fires are under control there. later we will talk more about the colorado fire in boulder still burning.
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we expect windy conditions and what's left over is tropical storm hermine creating heavy rain across the mid-section of the country. tropical depression igor weakened for the time being. the new track shifts further south that keeps it on a trajectory towards the u.s. more than we thought. a reason to be nervous there. this is one of the -- we are reaching the peak of hurricane season. i'm trying to be optimistic, but that means we will be busy for the next month. >> the storms as we know can be ka precious. >> at last check the koran burning has been canceled. we will hear from the man who apparently helped bring that about by getting through in some way to reverent terry jones. we will check in again on the story in a moment. it's 16 1/2 minutes past the hour.
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still doing the same thing, paying out more money. typical politician. definitely. 19 minutes past the hour. the koran burning or threat to do it on 9/11 is apparently off again. reverend terry jones said he will not burn the muslim holy book and hopes he gets his
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meeting with the developers of the islamic center and mosque near ground zero. >> here insists he was promised that meeting and lied to by the man who brokered the deal. the director in central florida. we asked him to set the record straight for us a short time ago. >> who is telling the truth here? >> of course i am. i have not made that promise and i made it very clear to him i have no control over the project in new york. i'm just a mediator here. i promised him to set up the meeting and take him and pay for it. no guarantee that i can move that mosque. it's not my decision. he stretched it and exaggerated once he was in front of the cameras that became to him the center, the face-saving he wanted to connect the two together and bartter.
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that's not what i offered him. >> just to clarify here and make sure we are clear on all of this, pastor jones said he was promised that the mosque would be moved. not just the meeting, but the mosque would be moved. he said no. i have no control over that. >> he said he is going to take him on a plane and fly to new york city. whether a meeting happens remains to be seen. >> here told us a little while ago that the meeting had not been set. this is still very fluid situation. >> someone else is throwing themselves in the frame. donald trump is weighing in on the islamic center controversy by offering to buy out the majority landowner who said no. he said an offer to one of the eight investors said he would buy the site at 45 park place for the price paid plus 25% on top of that, all cash.
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the lawyer said it wasn't considered, calling it a pathetic attempt to get publicity. >> dear it work. ? >> donald trump will be on larry king. is it a stunt or did he think he could guilty a serious offer? we will talk to him and hear from him when he appears on larry king. >> good news coming out of iran. an iranian official said they may release american hiker sarah shored after being accused of illegally crossing into iran. they are asking for all three to be freed. we should point out that sarah has been having health problems for months. it's probably a compassionate release because of that. we are moderating breaking news out of san bruno, california. a massive explosion and fire levels an entire neighborhood. a live report coming up next. ♪ [ upbeat instrumental ]
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>> there more than 20 million people displaced. it matters that people see what's happening here. our main concern as public officials here making sure our citizens are safe. >> state of emergency in a san francisco suburb. a powerful gas transmission line explosion sparking a deadly inferno. more than 170 homes have been damaged or destroyed. heat hot enough to crack car windshields blocks away and melt the tail lights off the back of vehicles. >> we want to give you an individual of the scope of the devastation with before and after shots. this is a google earth street view of the intersection where we are hear for example official
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that is the explosion took place at claremont and glenview drive. you can see the neatly lined upscale streets and homes there. check out the intersection after the explosion. it looks like it was bombed. we are told that there was a crazer 15 feet deep, 30 feet wide. that's video and not a street map. they are talking about the crater being filled with water and reportedly a jagged 24 inch wide natural gas pipe simply sticking out of the street. >> firefighters are now getting into the neighborhood to take a look around for more victims, but we may not know for hours how bad things are. our dan simon got on the scene shortly after and got a look at it from a number of vantage points. here's what he saw in the wee hours of the morning. >> early reports that a plane may have crashed into the hillside and they were not true, but you can understand when you
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get here why some may have been under that impression. when fire crews got here, this neighborhood was engulfed in flame. you can see right now firefighters, all they can do is take a stance to put out the names and prevent the other homes from catching on fire. here's homes that caught fire. you can see behind us, four or five homes totally levelled. crews are not doing anything over there. a few minutes ago we heard loud explosions and didn't know what it was. it turned out to be this white station wagon and car explosion. that's another thing that crews have to deal with. we are next to ground zero. you can see everything is completely levelled. to give you an idea how hot this fire was, we want to show you this. look at the back of this white volkswagen. the heat is melting the tail light. if we walk to the front, you can see that the explosion caused the concrete to travel.
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one of the problem citizen wind. can see it spreading the flame. >> coming to you from the parking lot of a shopping mall, you can see this red cross disaster bus set up behind me. this was a place for victims to come to get food to get the latest information from authorities. one thing they are asking the evacuees to do is come to this location or go to one of the shelters that is set up and give their address. let them know that they are okay. that is one of the ways and one of the things they want to do to ascertain how many people got out safely.
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we are not going to know the full extent until crews can get inside these homes. once you have daylight and when they feel confident that the flame are out and they can go into the homes safely and search them one by one for possible victims. again, the latest information we have coming from the l.a. times, eight fatalities and we have been talking to firefighters all night. they expect that number to go up. >> we saw your reporting from the fire while the blaze was ongoing. let's contrast that with pictures from ktvu and get to you describe what it's like on the scene there now. it would appear from the ariel shots that the fires are mostly if not all out. >> that are is good news. we were told it was 50% containment, but that was when the winds were pretty intense. we have gotten well past midnight and the winds seem to have died down, giving
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firefighters the opportunity to get the upper hand. also it was crucial to stop the flow of gas. also have that residual gas burn off if you will and really get the upper hand. >> he said it should give firefighters a brake, but as we saw from the picture, they have been able to put the fires out. dan simon for us, you are getting information by the minute as they moved to the new coordination site. >> the national transportation safety board which is the investigative agency and launched to figure out what it was that happened that led to the gas explosion. residents said they smelled gas
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in the area for some three weeks. we pressed the pg&e spokesman twice, but that will come to light and they claim they made phone calls that is monitored and documented. we will see what comes of that. >> the red cross is helping to coordinate shelter and assistance for people affected by the fire. if you need help, there is the number for you. 88 888-443-5722. >> if you live in san bruno or have been affected by the fire and want to share photos or videos, logon to cnn.com/ireport and upload. >> the latest on this koran burning. pastor terry jones said i have a deal and it's off, but he found out maybe the deal wasn't the deal he thought and he is saying
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maybe it's back on. he is saying no, it's still off. what are the political ramification that is the white house is getting so involved in this tiny church that has fewer than 50. >> the president had to respond and the secretary of state and secretary of defense. >> calling the pastor yesterday. if you don't call, what are the ramifications that this goes forward? we'll talk about the drama associated with this coming up. 33 minutes after the hour. mark! anna! aah! aah! ha! ah! whoo! hee! heave! forgot your lunch. give me. give me. hee! ohh! ohh! announcer: you don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent... i'm ok. because kids in foster care don't need perfection. they need you.
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>> 37 minutes after the hour. the plan to burn the ka ran on
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on hold. terry jones set off a firestorm by announcing a koran-burning event tomorrow, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. did the white house make the right move? getting involved in the controversy. joining us from new orleans, showing his sunny optimism for his hometown saints after they won last night, 49-9, cnn contributor and democratic strategist. feeling good today? >> good morning. a goodwin. a lot of parading here. >> the word believe on it. let me ask you, let's talk about this guy, terry jones. the planned koran burning event tomorrow. the president weighed in on this and hillary clinton and general david petraeus and robert gates actually phoned this guy. how did the white house play this? >> it had become an
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international story. one shouldn't do tv after a football game all night and had one too many, but i have to say, some things in this country -- i don't know what it is. going to war with a billion and a half muslims. how idiotic can you be? this guy and some guy in dallas talking about pedophilia and the whole thing in new york? they are just jiping this stuff up like you can't believe. i think the policy makers in the country and whatever element they are saying however small it might be, why are we doing this? the generals are saying look, this is hurtful to what's going on and it's not our values and not what we are doing. i'm at a loss to explain this. this clown guy has a $300,000 house in slidell across the lake
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from new orleans. all these doing is trying to jack up his contributions which i guess he has done successfully and be on tv. maybe the president said we haven't handled it right. some things you don't have to cover. >> did the white house handle this correctly? you wonder, should the secretary of defense be calling a guy from this tiny church that's got 50 people in the church who elevated himself into a global debate. is the secretary of defense suggesting that he can safe the life of one american, is it not worth a stupid phone call? >> i agree, but ahead of that, general petraeus said something. obviously he is the commander there and people are coming up and they were probably having intelligence that they pushed. general petraeus started with a sufficient magnitude that he should say something. a guy kept going through it and
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general petraeus asked secretary gates, we have to say something and stop this. this is a potential -- not only a danger to the troops, it frankly makes my country look like a pack of idiots. it's embarrassing. >> secretary gates suggested that why not make one phone call if you can save the life of one american service member. what does is it say that a guy who as we said is the pastor, self-appointed pastor of this tiny church can command the global debate the way he has over the past couple of weeks? >> you know, john, that is a superb question and i tried to answer it in my mind and here we are with the things we have going wrong. something like this happens and you are right. it commands a global debate and has effect on people's opinions and has an effect on my opinion of us and i really don't have a
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good answer other than to tell you i find the whole thing utterly distressing. it's just sickening. i think the press and the administration could have handled it better or maybe this guy is just outlooking for how many crazy people we will find and somebody will say look at all the attention he got. i will do something crazier. you are not only endangering people, but the image of a nation. i don't know. it's just bad and stupid. >> on that point, the media has been criticized for what it's worth for giving this guy a national platform and megaphone to talk about his plan and the flip side is what if this fellow had gone ahead and done this tomorrow and the video was posted on you tube. the fact that he was actually given air time and brought this
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to attention and allowed people and secretary clinton and the president to say whoa, hang on. bad idea here. what would have been worse, putting him on television ahead of it or waiting until it happened and seeing it go out on you tube? >> that's why i said earlier. i don't have the answer. you are right, i don't know that if what the media and i guess i should include myself in that, by bringing attention, maybe that's the best course. i suspect with the professional news people would say at cnn, it's news and we can't decide and it's not up to us to decide whether to run it or not. it is news that people are interested in because we keep running the story and people keep talking about it. i think that when you have something like this that the country -- this is the guy in dallas and all of the stuff that you see in new york, there is a part of this country that is
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willing to do anything to try to start a war with a billion and a half people. somebody needs to sit down and really contemplate the consequences of that. this is absurd. you can imagine if it's world war ii, my grandmother was a five-star mom. if somebody did something like that to harm our boys overseas, that would not have gone well. i promise you. this is unfortunate. it makes us look -- unfortunately sometimes you get judged by the dumbest clown in the country and i'm fearful that's what's happening to this country and people are saying it's a great country and they were founded on all these freedoms and everything else and they had their problems, but they wanted to be tolerant and freedom-loving people and what's wrong them? it's very, very disheartening.
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this guy is just a clown. he's a clown that is causing a lot of people a lot of trouble. >> we will keep watching to see which way is goes. great to see you and great to have you up late after a football game. it makes you more feist fe that were possible. >> i don't know about feisty, but we are going to do the best we can with it. >> great to see you. thanks. >> we have been following this morning breaking news. a devastating explosion taking place in a community not far from san francisco international airport in a community called san bruno. there still problems as they try to figure out if more people did not survive this. it's being reported now according to the l.a. times, eight people killed in the explosion. we will find out more as the day goes on. we'll be right back. 45 minutes past the hour.
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there a lot of people who need shelter and probably need shelter -- additional people will be coming we expect. people are so much in shock they are talking about i need something tonight. give me a place to go think and lay down. i'm sure tomorrow we will have all the red cross volunteers during the day out in force talking to these people and seeing what they need. >> unimaginable an explosion
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ripped through the neighborhood while you are making dinner which is what happened in san browno and volunteer are trying to help them. we follow breaking news from this suburb where a gas explosion and fire damage said or destroyed at least 170 homes. flame are shooting through the air and witnesses describe the slow roar of the gas bubble for example underground saying that at one point they thought it was a plane that hit the neighborhood. san bruno fire chief telling the l.a. times that eight people are now dead. crews are beginning to search for victims and officials fear that the number of dead will rise. they sent the team to the scene and while it is not transportation-related, they investigate explosions where gas lines are thought to have played a role. >> a lot of people at airports like boston in and philadelphia, atlanta and chicago waiting to
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take off for san francisco, the smoke from the fires is going to cause delays for those people. rob is in the extreme whether center. what's the prognosis? >> the advisory is to prepare for delays. at 6:00 a.m. on the west coast, we have no word that there delays or ground stoppage at san francisco airport. the visibility is good. if there is smoke at the flight level or the glide path, we may have issues. hopefully, keep your fingers crossed it won't be horrible. the winds are light, but it was a different story all together with winds at 6:00 at 21 miles an hour sustained both in san bruno and san francisco. this time of year we get the marine layer and you can get a sea breeze kicking in the afternoon and it was probably the worst time you could probably have an explosion of this nature. wins at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon were nil and all of a
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sudden 4:00 or 5:00 kicked up to 21 miles an hour. they were even more extreme and today should be a little bit less extreme, but we will see the sea breezes and clear skies. windy conditions across the inner mountain west and heavy rainfall expected across the central part of the country. we will see delays at least in the morning from san francisco. we will keep you posted on that and wind delays in the new york city area. miami, orlando, and fort lauderdale will see thunderstorms. these thunderstorms rolling across the area into the ohio river valley, this is leftovers of tropical storm hermine. we are trying to bring all the moisture out. a foot of rain and almost a foot of rain in arkansas and oklahoma with rescues happening yesterday with flash flooding. we don't expect a ton of rain with this now that it's beginning to wind out, but none the less it will be raining heavily at times across the valley. northern plains and inner mountain west, this is a system
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rolling through wyoming and montana right now. that will kick up winds again across the boulder area where the fire is now at about 30% containment. they are struggling with the weather and the terrain. wins could gust to 30 miles an hour. humidities will once again be low. red flag warning in effect. what's going on with the tropics? this is tropical storm igor and it's downgraded to a depression. it's getting better organized and still way out there. this is the track for the national hurricane center that brings it to category one status. it should be a hurricane over the beginning of next week and continue to track south of the subtropical ridge going in a westerly direction and get somewhere near the leeward islands and little to end of next week. we may not have to worry about this.
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julia would be next on the dock skpet there things percolating which may be something more to worry about. back to you. >> rob, thanks so much. great to have ow the case this morning. eight minutes to the top of the hour. we'll be right back after this. ♪ [car horn honks] our outback always gets us there... ... sometimes it just takes us a little longer to get back. ♪
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>> it was like an earthquake and a lot of rattling and the noise
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was phenomenal. it was so loud. it just kept shaking probably a good 10 minutes. >> an eyewitness describing what it was like when a gas main blew after 6:00 pacific time in the town of san bruno. there you see what it looked like on the upper right after the explosion and what it looks like now. most of the fires are out because pacific gas and electric managed to turn off the gas and got the upper hand for the moment. >> now it will be coming up on 12 hours since this explosion happened. they are just getting a chance to go door-to-door in the burned out neighborhood and check on whether or not anyone else perished unfortunately. the latest number is six people according to the fire chief telling the l.a. times. there were fears among firefighters and rescuers that the number would rise as they got into more hom

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